5 Home Truths About the Sports Performance World!

I was recently asked about 5 things that I’ve witnessed over the last 21 years coaching that may surprise some people.

1. The best 12 year old best and fairest, state rep, captain (name any accolade you want) rarely makes it or dominates at the elite level. A lot can happen over the following 6 years before athlete can be recruited by professional sporting teams-injuries, burn out, early developers physical advantage diminishes when their competitors catch up).

Sydney Swans Superstar Kurt Tippett never made the U/12, U/14 or U/16 QLD team, nor did he Win a club or regional Best and Fairest as a junior athlete. yet still went on to have a highly successful AFL career.

It’s rarely the team or athlete that is the fittest or strongest that wins. It’s the athlete or team that stays injury free and has consistency of personnel and training sequence and team cohesion that wins. Have a look thru the last decade of AFL teams that have won Grand Finals they have all had the lowest injury rates (It’s why we prioritize injury prevention over performance enhancement). To quote Multiple premiership winning AFL High Performance Coach formerly of the Melbourne Demons 2021 Darren Burgess, “the Best Ability is Durability”.

Darren Burgess and Simon Goodwin Melbourne demons premiership winning coaches 2021

Flexibility for sports performance is the least developed physical quality yet has the most impact upon injury prevention. (In my experience very few coaches can design a flexibility program for injury prevention or performance enhancement. The old saying goes-don’t take flexibility advice from those that can’t touch their toes).

Flexibility is the least developed quality

Mental Skills Training is the Final frontier-with most teams, clubs and athletes performing some for of physical preparation. Training the mind has yet to be fully explored. I realised this a long time ago and now have one of the worlds leading mental skills coaches on hand for our USP Athletes.


Many coaches chase the wrong metrics-physical performance testing does not predict sporting performance. A great 2km time trial does not mean you will dominate on the footy field. It is simply an indication of athletic ability for 2km. It doesn’t determine, how well you can kick or find the footy nor does it indicate your courage to put your head over the ball. Teams that pick athletes based on testing data are doing themselves a disservice. It’s called football and you win the game by kicking the ball thru the 2 middle sticks and denying your opposition the ability to score. It’s not called 2km time trial relay. For more details click here to check out my article Sports Performance Testing Does Not Predict Sports Performance.

All the best,

Joey Hayes